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The book series ‘Ideas in Context’, published by Cambridge University Press since 1984, has played a major role in establishing the history of political thought as a prominent field of research and debate. Although the series’ roots lie in the so-called Cambridge school of intellectual history associated with J.G.A.
The sub-branch of history that is known by the ambiguous (and frightening to undergraduates, cats, and many mainstream academics) name “historiography” seems to be undergoing a Renaissance at the moment.
How did the world of nation-states come about? What happened to the world of empires that preceded it? How did the transition take place and how inevitable was it? These may seem (and indeed are) old questions.
The Birth of Modern Belief: Faith and Judgment from the Middle Ages to the Enlightenment / Ethan H. Shagan
The Birth of Modern Belief is seriously good. It is erudite, insightful, and cogent; but, above all, it enables us to think hard about the relationship between our past and our present.
Taming Capitalism Before its Triumph: Public Service, Distrust, & ‘Projecting’ in Early Modern England / Koji Yamamoto
It is hard to tell a non-deterministic story about the shift from early modern to modern economic practices: the terms we use (‘modernity’, ‘capitalism’, ‘economic’), the questions we ask, and the conclusions we draw are all inevitably weighed down by what we think or know about economic life today.
Thomas Paine, the most widely read political thinker in the late 18th century, played a notable role in the American Revolution, in the development of popular radicalism in Britain, and in the French Revolution.
Work on the European revolutions of 1848 has rolled out at an accelerated rate since their 150th anniversary two decades ago. Much of this newer research has looked at previously unheralded social and cultural dimensions of the revolutionary conjuncture, but politics has remained, necessarily, at the centre of the literature.
In 2017, many people around the world either celebrated or lamented the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. According to the standard narrative, on 31 October 1517, a young German monk named Martin Lütter nailed a set of theological theses for debate upon the door of the castle church in Wittenberg.
Inspiration and Authority in the Middle Ages: Prophets and their Critics from Scholasticism to Humanism / Brian Fitzgerald
Brian Fitzgerald begins this timely, useful and extremely interesting book by stating what should be pretty obvious to scholars of medieval prophetic texts; that prophecy in the Middle Ages took a wide variety of forms, right across Europe and beyond.
Ark of Civilization: Refugee Scholars and Oxford University, 1930-1945 / Sally Crawford, Jas Elsner, Katharina Ulmschneider
We are all familiar with modern debates in the media regarding the politics of refugee rescue and arguments surrounding which immigrants should be prioritised for rescue and aid.